Thumbs up: Firefighters
The annual firefighter stair climb up the 1,311 steps in Seattle's Columbia Tower took on special meaning for the men and women of East Olympia Fire District 6. Wearing 70 pounds of firefighting equipment, DJ Brimer participated in the fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of Matt Leppell, a former volunteer firefighter at the East Olympia station who died of leukemia and Crohn’s disease in September at the age 24. “Matt didn’t get to choose this. This chose him,” Brimer said. “This is one way for us to do something. It’s a way of bringing attention to cancer and to raise money to fight it.” Leppell’s mother, Mona, asked Brimer if his station would do the climb to honor her son. The firefighters took up the cause. “By doing this, we don’t feel as powerless,” Brimer said. “It’s a way of helping.” What a great attitude and nice tribute to a fallen friend. Georgia Sanz Daniels, 43, of Graham, raced to the observation deck in 14 minutes, 52.17 seconds, winning the competition among women. Montana firefighter Kory Burgess, 29, defended his title among male competitors and set a world stairclimbing record of 10 minutes, 53.79 seconds. More importantly, the 1,550 firefighters from 27 states, Canada and New Zealand raised $695,000 in the 20th annual climb.
Thumbs down: Vandalism
Two parked patrol vehicles and the west-side Olympia police substation were vandalized early last Saturday. The suspect or suspects broke all the windows on one vehicle, three windows on a second patrol vehicle and one large window at the station. Damage is estimated at $4,000. The station is off Harrison Avenue, next to Garfield Elementary School. Police discovered the vandalism about 4 a.m. This senseless act of vandalism, while aimed at police, won’t have much impact beyond the cost of replacing the windows. It’s just a mindless act by a misguided individual with some grudge or ax to grind. Lets hope the guilty are brought to justice quickly.
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Thumbs up: Kiwanis
The Olympia Kiwanis Club kicked off spring a couple of weeks early by tackling garden beds on the Capitol Campus, preparing them for what promises to be a bumper crop that will go directly to the Thurston County Food Bank. This is an outstanding community service project that results in tons of local vegetables going home with very grateful needy families this summer and fall. The six garden beds on the Capitol Campus, which are not far from the Korean War Memorial on the east side of the campus, are among four main planting areas in the city maintained by the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis has been growing vegetables for the food bank since 1990, according to co-chairman Don Leaf. Its four main gardens produced about 26,000 pounds of vegetables last year, and the Capitol Campus gardens produced about 5,900 pounds. This year, the Capitol Campus garden beds have a chance to produce even more vegetables because they were expanded to about 16,000 square feet from 11,000 square feet, Leaf said. About $8,500 to $10,000 was raised to maintain the four garden areas this year, he said. That’s great community support for a great service project. A big thumbs up to the Kiwanis volunteers and their supporters who are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the needy families in Thurston County.
Thumbs down: Escape
Susan Dreyfus, secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services, ordered an immediate staff review when a mentally ill man who refers to himself as “the son of Satan” escaped from Western State mental hospital at Lakewood. Thank goodness, Jonathan D. Wilson, 26, of the Everett area was taken into custody without incident at a Tacoma park not too long after his escape. Wilson was admitted to the Lakewood mental hospital Jan. 18 on an involuntary civil commitment for 90 days, spokeswoman Kris Flowers said. He was committed to Western State after being jailed in Snohomish County in 2008 on a conviction for second-degree robbery. After serving his jail time, he was placed at the Monroe Correctional Facility for a probation violation and later released to the Snohomish County Evaluation and Treatment Center. From there, Wilson was taken to Western State. An alert from the state Department of Corrections to law enforcement agencies described Wilson as delusional, paranoid and dangerous. He had indicated he was sanctioned to kill people at random, according to the alert. This incident ended about as well as possible, but it’s essential that DSHS review its policies and ensure there are not additional escapes from Western State Hospital in the future.